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YMCA offers free programs for Parkinson’s patients, caregivers

KANDY CHILDRESS, Community Contributor • Apr 4, 2019 at 1:39 PM

The Greater Kingsport Family YMCA is a cause-driven organization focused on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. An important component of its work is helping members and participants create meaningful relationships through spirit, mind, and body programming as well as fostering live-well connections aimed at bringing loved ones closer through family-centered activities.

An excellent example of the YMCA living out its mission is recently added programming aimed at supporting not only individuals battling Parkinson’s disease, but their caregivers as well.

The YMCA’s Tyler Ramey, a much-loved group exercise and cycling instructor, discovered research conducted by the Cleveland Clinic showing a 35 percent reduction in Parkinson’s symptoms by the simple act of pedaling a bicycle at a rapid pace, optimally 80-90 revolutions per minute. This, along with results from a community needs assessment, inspired Tyler to launch the YMCA’s Parkinson’s Cycling Class, which is available at no cost to both members and non-members of the Y. The Parkinson’s Cycling Class takes place on Mondays and Fridays from 12:00–1:00 p.m. and Wednesdays from 12:15–1:15 p.m. in the YMCA Cycling Studio.

“Parkinson’s programming at the Y is so important to us. Our community was lacking in outlets for folks dealing with this disease, and I am proud that we have answered that call with these two programs. The Y is constantly changing to ensure that we always meet the needs of the community, and that makes me proud,” said Ramey, senior director of enrichment.

Edwina Anderson, wife of the late Alex Anderson, had this to say in support of the Y’s efforts. “One of the highlights of Alex’s week was attending the weekly Parkinson’s cycle classes at the Y. Once, at a doctor’s appointment, he asked to move a procedure just so he wouldn’t miss his Monday class … or his front row spot! Since his passing, I have been proud of the Y’s continued efforts for not only those living with Parkinson’s, but also their caregivers.”

Experts advise caregivers supporting a family member, friend, or neighbor battling any disease, especially a debilitating one such as Parkinson’s, to make taking care of themselves — physically, mentally, and emotionally — a priority. The YMCA has also developed a monthly support group for those with Parkinson’s and caregivers that focuses on connecting, learning from, and sharing among others living with or caring for a Parkinson’s patient. The group meets the first Friday of each month from 10:00–11:30 a.m. in the YMCA’s Virginia Room, with the next one taking place on April 5th.

“As a caregiver, I especially appreciate the support for those dealing with Parkinson’s. It helps me not feel so alone knowing that there are community outlets such as these … not to mention all the great friendships that I have seen develop in the classes,” stated Cheryl, a friend of the Y.

For more information on the Parkinson’s Cycling Class or Parkinson’s Support Group, contact Ramey at [email protected] org or (423) 765-9908. The Greater Kingsport Family YMCA is located at 1840 Meadowview Parkway.

Kandy Childress is the executive director of Healthy Kingsport. She can be reached at [email protected] .

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